Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers -- commonly known as pit bulls -- may look similar at first glance, but they're two distinct breeds. Although both types of dogs sometimes get a bad rap, they can make loyal and loving pets if properly trained and socialized.
A Head for Heights
One of the most noticeable differences between these two breeds is that pit bulls are taller and heavier than Staffordshire bull terriers. American Kennel Club breed standards state that Staffies should stand between 14 and 16 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 24 and 38 pounds. United Kennel Club breed standards for American pit bull terriers say the breed should be roughly between 17 and 21 inches tall -- although taller is OK, as long as they remain in proportion -- and weigh between 35 and 60 pounds.
Although both Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers should have short, smooth coats, the latter can come in many more colors. According to the UKC, pit bulls can be any color other than merle and exhibit any coat pattern. On the other hand, the only colors allowed by the AKC for Staffordshire bull terriers are white, red, fawn, blue, black or brindle. White markings are allowed with any of these colors.
Staffies and pit bulls have fairly similar body types. Both should look strong and well muscled in proportion to their sizes, with deep chests and level top lines. While they should both have broad, straight muzzles, with just a slight taper to the end of the nose, UKC breed standards dictate that American pit bull terriers must have a short muzzle than the length of their head, with a rough 2:3 ratio. There's no such rule regarding Staffordshire bull terriers, who can have longer muzzles.
While temperament and personality varies from dog to dog, some expectations exist when it comes to these breeds. The AKC says that Staffordshire bull terriers should be courageous, tenacious, highly intelligent, trustworthy and affectionate to those they know. The UKC states American pit bull terriers should be strong, confident, eager to please and have a zest for life. They say that aggression toward humans is highly undesirable, but some level of dog aggression may be expected. Both breeds are noted as making exceptional family pets and being good with children.